This is the second part of a discussion I had with Marc Hudson, co-editor of Manchester Climate Monthly and person who has been involved in political activism – mostly of the environmental persuasion – for a few years.
Here we talk about whether political organisations are really looking for a broad membership, and the lack of long term organising and long term thinking.
Marc Interview 2 from preorg on Vimeo.
I think that neither Marc or I are the most tactful people in the world and I’m sure we both wish that there was a good discussion of political organising tactics and methods going on without us. But instead we see the same methods and ideas used over and over again, each time as unsustainably as the last, until the energy going into new campaigns and projects collapses, leaving little behind. If people are serious about political organising there needs to be critique of what has gone before, and discussion of new ways of doing things.
2 thoughts on “Discussion on political organising – and how to make it better – Part 2”
From Mario on facebook:
I found this interesting an would probably agree with most of Marc’s comments.
My one comment would be that he says ‘big action’ strategies are no more effective than ‘old ngo strategies we used to laugh at’ like lobbying and petitioning. If that’s meant to imply those ‘old ngo’ strategies are what we should return to, that’s very questionable. That big actions are no more effective than lobbying and petitioning doesn’t mean the latter are actually effective.
My other comment would be that in those two interview you are mostly discussing ‘form’ of organising without touching upon ‘content’, or how we organise without what are the issues we organise around. This to me looks like a big omission. I am not going to comment on climate camp because I have very little experience of it. With regards to the more recent events, I believe that the whole movmement around tax evasion was bound to fail.
One reason is large scale structural reason so to say. Tax evasion is not immoral corruption of the state by corporation but a particular expression of the fact that the main role of the state is ensuring that corporations can effectively pursue profits.
Even if this particular anti-tax-evasion movement succeeded, corporations would find another way to recoup their profits (I could just say ‘because capitalism’ but you wouldn’t like that).
Another reason is that my life is not fucked up by tax evasion. It’s fucked up by high rents, expensive food and transport, queues at the GP so long that I don’t go to the GP, salary which over the years is slowly getting smaller – I’m actually quite lucky because of not having too fucked up life. I know that somewhere there there is a connection, but I think this connection being very remote and abstract makes it difficult for people other than the groups Marc describes getting involved.
And more from Mario:
Also, I find many of the things you and Marc said really spot on. The practical parts on working in a way which doesn’t exclude those outside of full-time activist circles is really important.
Provision of childcare during meetings/gatherings is a basic example and it’s good to see that some groups are at least trying to do that.
The idea that new people should be given discrete tasks, that is so simple, but really really useful observation.